Calling all future scientists 

Science World's On the Road Program brings fireballs, explosions to Whistler schools

click to enlarge PHOTOY COURTESY OF SCIENCE WORLD - SCIENCE SIZZLES Students across B.C. get fiery explosions — like this student creating a fireball, simulating the light and heat energy produced by the sun — in Science World's On the Road Program, which visits Whistler this week.
  • photoy courtesy of science world
  • SCIENCE SIZZLES Students across B.C. get fiery explosions — like this student creating a fireball, simulating the light and heat energy produced by the sun — in Science World's On the Road Program, which visits Whistler this week.

Nothing gets the attention of children quite like a fireball, a rocket launcher, or an explosion. Or just about any trick in which kids can witness just how cool science can be.

And Science World's On the Road Program brings the wonders of physics and nature to classrooms throughout B.C. after the program was reintroduced last year following a few years' hiatus.

Charlotte Swanson, Science World's program team leader and co-ordinator, said from 2005 to 2012 there were more than one million B.C. students from kindergarten through Grade 12 who got to witness the power of science. The travelling show visited more than 1,000 schools in communities from Dease Lake and Ucluelet, to Haida Gwaii.

The B.C. government cut funding for the program, so Science World redirected its own funding to reinstate the program in 2015, along with a five-year plan.

"Our goal is to try and get to every school in the province in those five years," Swanson said. "On a week-long trip, we typically get to 10 schools."

Fantastic Forces is the program that will be featured in Whistler classrooms at École La Passerelle and Myrtle Philip Community School beginning Oct. 13 before the show moves on to Squamish.

"There will be a rocket launcher, things flying through the air — and then we sort of stop and discuss: What are the forces behind the cool things they're seeing? And it's really a cool way to get them excited about science and forces," said Swanson.

"This can be one of those daunting subjects so we really try to make it accessible, and they're having fun and almost don't realize they're learning about physics," she said.

The program also features pre- and post-event activities that students can take part in.

"We leave teachers with lots of resources and other free initiatives if they want to continue learning about science in that informal way."

Swanson said that the more remote the community, the more "rock-star" status the program holds for students.

"Prince George or Atlin — they probably haven't seen anyone from Science World before, or been to a science centre and they're just super excited to have us there," she said.

And after Science World packs up its containers and loads the van for the next destination, Swanson said the buzz continues as students can take part in video or photo essays through the website, where they can win prizes.

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